Analysis: Senate vote shows gun-control advocates the size of challenge

by Samuel P. Jacobs, Reuters  |  published on April 18, 2013

U.S. President Obama speaks alongside with Vice President Biden and family members of Newtown victims on commonsense measures to reduce gun violence in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington
NEW YORK | In the end, nothing could persuade enough U.S. senators to approve the most significant gun legislation in two decades:

Not the carnage from Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were massacred by a gunman in December, igniting a national debate on gun control.

Not the impassioned pleas of Newtown survivors’ families, whose calls for expanded background checks for gun buyers so moved a pro-gun senator from West Virginia that he became their advocate.

And not the support of President Barack Obama, who was inspired by Newtown to make gun control the first major initiative of his second term.

The U.S. Senate’s key vote on Wednesday wasn’t exactly a rejection of expanded background checks, gun-control advocates were careful to point out.

Most senators – 54 – approved the measure, which polls indicated was backed by more than 80 percent of Americans. But because Republicans threatened to use a filibuster to block any gun proposal that did not get 60 votes in the 100-member Senate, the plan to expand background checks to sales made online and at gun shows fell short.

And just like that, the most aggressive push for gun control in a generation did, too.

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